UNC Alumna And Astronaut Trainee Zena Cardman Revels In The Poetry Of Outer Space – WUNC

Zena Cardman knew she might not have another opportunity to pursue poetry. She was about to dive into graduate research on microbiology in extreme environments when she put that plan on ice, and opted to write a poetry collection for her undergraduate thesis at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Host Anita Rao talks with UNC alumna and astronaut trainee Zena Cardman.

She paired that love of investigation and art to receive a masters in marine science with a minor in creative writing. An extremophile, Cardman was naturally attracted to space exploration, and in 2017 she beat the odds was accepted into that years class of NASA astronaut candidates. Now flying supersonic jets, backpacking through the canyons of Utah and practicing her dexterity with the International Space Stations robotic arm, Cardman uses her artistry to share the experience. She has an affinity for fine-tuned mechanics that is as clear in her poetry as it is in her Etch a Sketch portraits and the automotive repair videos featured on her Instagram.

Host Anita Rao talks with Zena Cardman about the scientific and philosophical importance of the International Space Station and returning to the moon. Astronaut candidate Zena Cardman speaks at UNC-Chapel Hills Memorial Hall on Wednesday, Nov. 6 at 5 p.m.


On transitioning from scientist to astronaut:

I was a microbiologist by training and got to go to all of these far-flung places like the Arctic and Antarctica, and I loved the science there. But I equally loved the operational side: The logistics of planning for how you go to these places that are so wild and remote and then working in these tight-knit groups of people who are all there for one cause. And I just thought that the space program seems like the ultimate field research. So when the application opened in 2015 I think in December it was actually the first time that I met the bare minimum requirements. And I thought, you know, I'll try this out, see how it goes. It'll be a good test drive, and I'll apply again the next time.

On balancing her creative and logical strengths:

I love existing in both worlds I think they've actually both guided me in the same direction. Science for me is very much about exploring our world, our universe and figuring out how things work and what our place is here. And also writing is about exploring our world and our universe and our place in it. So I think it's really approaching the same questions just from slightly different angles.

On the best part of astronaut training:

It's different every day. I have no standard schedule. Our training is everything from learning Russian language to learning how to operate the robotic arm all of the engineering systems onboard the Space Station. We learn how to do spacewalks. We put on the spacesuit in a giant swimming pool.

It's called the Neutral Buoyancy Lab in Houston, a little bit outside of Johnson Space Center. You know, it's hard to train for being in a weightless environment when you're here on Earth, obviously, but a swimming pool is a great way to do that. If you've ever been underwater, you feel like you're floating. And so we can take these 300-plus pound space suits [with] a combination of styrofoam and weights placed all around. It's this amazing art form. These scuba divers come and do this, and they weigh you out in just a way that you're perfectly neutrally buoyant in every axis... It's really cool. But even cooler to me is that we also have a life size mock-up of the space station underwater in this pool.

I haven't had a scary moment per se. I think sometimes, for me, the scariest moments are doing public speaking. - Zena Cardman

On what she expects to do as an astronaut:

My class is about to graduate, but we have no idea what vehicle will be flying on, and to me, that's actually one of the most exciting things. You know, it could be that we fly on a Soyuz, like we've been flying for the last several years as NASA astronauts, but we also have these commercial vehicles that are coming online now And we also have the new Artemis mission. We are going to the moon in 2024, and that is such a wild thrill to be in an office where I am working with the people who will go to the moon.

On the continued importance of space exploration:

All of the research that we do in space has huge implications for life on Earth. We have satellites that are observing our weather and helping you get to work in the morning with your GPS. We do research on the space station about bone density loss, and that, of course, is relevant for astronauts who are up there for a long time, but it's also valuable for osteoporosis on Earth ... Apollo was a really audacious goal ... We had to do things like make computers smaller and more robust, and so that drove development of the integrated circuit. And now you have a cell phone that has as much computing power as the Apollo program did. It's amazing. So I think I don't even know what benefits well get from it. But by setting these goals, it will ultimately drive some incredible discoveries.

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UNC Alumna And Astronaut Trainee Zena Cardman Revels In The Poetry Of Outer Space - WUNC

What It Takes to be a Space Pilot – The Crux – Discover Magazine

Virgin Galactics SpaceShipTwo. The craft is flown by human pilots to space. (Credit: Steve Mann/Shutterstock)

Taking control of a 3,000-pound rocket motor launching into an inhospitable environment at speeds exceeding 2,000 mph sounds terrifying to some. But others will spend their whole careers in pursuit of those ephemeral, weightless moments.

With the expansion of commercial space exploration, more pilots will be needed to guide spacecraft beyond the bounds of Earth. These pilots come from a wide variety of backgrounds, but they all have one thing in common: lots of flying experience. Heres a look at what it takes to become a space pilot.

Flying into space is a coveted job. That demand means companies are able to choose the most qualified pilots. And at the top of the list of qualifications: hours in flight.

The more experience you have, the more likely you are to have encountered situations that are more challenging, says David Mackay, chief pilot for Virgin Galactic.

Read more: Virgin Galactics SpaceShipTwo Just Made Its Second Trip to Space

Being able to handle those unexpected situations could mean the difference between life or death if something goes wrong with the spacecraft. Most commercial space pilots start out as test pilots airplane pilots specially trained to test out new and experimental aircraft. Mackay himself spent nearly a decade as a test pilot for the Royal Air Force before joining Virgin Atlantic part of the Virgin Group that runs Virgin Galactic in 1995.

Similarly, Mike Melvill spent decades as a test pilot before launching into space. In fact, Melvill started out building planes before he learned to fly them. Only later did he graduate to work as a test pilot after catching the eye of Burt Rutan, founder of spaceflight company Scaled Composites.

It only happened because I met Burt, and he saw that I built a plane accurately and it flew very well, Melvill recalls. He flew it himself and he then trained me himself to be a test pilot of his aircraft.

Melvill would go on to pilot Virgins SpaceShipOne, making the first commercial flight into space in 2004. But Melvills story is unique.

I dont know anyone else who went the path I went. Norecollection of anybody who was lucky enough to get to do what I did, Melvillsays.

Typically, test pilots receive their training through the military, as Mackay did. On top of that, they spend countless days in flight simulators to prepare future commercial space pilots for all conceivable situations.

As we approach the flight day itself, [the pilots] will be in the in the simulator every day, sometimes twice a day, doing repeated profiles, Mackay says. In the airline industry, typically youre in the simulator every six months, and were in it on a daily basis.

Theres no drivers-license equivalent for commercial space pilots, but there is some limited government oversight. In 1984, as the commercial space industry started taking off, the government formed the Office of Commercial Space Transportation. Today the offices main job is to review and approve commercial rocket launches. It also requires informed consent of anyone flying into space.

Its somewhat akin to going to a doctors office. The doctor informs you of all the known risks associated with the particular procedure or operation and once the patient has been informed of that, some documentation is signed and then the procedure proceeds, said Kelvin Coleman, the Federal Aviation Administrations deputy associate administrator for commercial space transportation. We ensure that consultation is made, and that documentation is in place before those space flight participants and crew members can fly.

For commercial space pilots who have successfully completed an authorized flight into space defined in the U.S. as 50 miles above Earths surface, where effects like weightlessness become apparent the Office of Commercial Space Transportation recognizes their achievements with Astronaut Wings. To date, seven commercial astronauts have received the wings; those flying under government programs, including NASA, arent eligible for them.

While VirginGalactic plans to continue having pilots aboard their spacecraft, somecompanies, like SpaceX and Blue Origin, are opting to forgo humans forautomated systems. But for those who will continue with live pilotsbehind the controls, test pilots will likely continue to fill their ranks.

Were in a test program and, you know, it makes completesense to have test pilots working on an aircraft that is still in the testprogram, Mackay said. Maybe one day we dont need test pilots and on theother hand there are an awful lot of [pilots] who are really interested indoing this. And you know, why not get the most experienced and best-qualifiedpilots you possibly can?

Aside from flight experience and the ability to communicate clearly with a large team, a commercial space pilot also needs another crucial attribute: a passion for the job.

One of the most important things, of course, is that wewant somebody who is highly motivated and really keen to see the projectsucceed. And a good team player, it takes a big team of people to make thiswork, Mackay said.

Continue reading here:

What It Takes to be a Space Pilot - The Crux - Discover Magazine

Satellite built by students soars to space on mission to map heat in Phoenix, other cities – AZCentral

An Antares rocket blasts off from the launchpad at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Nov. 2, 2019. The rocket sent the Cygnus spacecraft on a resupply journey to the International Space Station, carrying a payload that included seven small satellites made by students at U.S. universities.(Photo: Vivek Chacko/Arizona State University)

As the countdown began at NASAs Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, a crowd of engineers and scientists stood on bleachers in the sun, looking out across a grassy field and wetlands at a rocket on the launchpad.

Mission control announced: T-minus 10, 9, 8 The onlookers joined in, counting loudly: 3, 2, 1.

Smoke billowed from the launchpad and the rocket rose atop a column of white fire.

Liftoff of Antares, the voice from mission control said, and the crowd whooped and cheered.

On the bleachers, a group of nine young engineers and computer scientists watched the rocket until it disappeared into the blue sky. They hugged each other, elated at their achievement.

The group, all of them students or recent graduates of Arizona State University, built a miniature research satellite named Phoenix that launchedinto space aboard anAntares rocket headed for the International Space Station. The students creation weighs just 8.6 pounds and is about the size of a loaf of bread 12 inches long by 4 inches wide.

They designed the mini-satellite, known as a CubeSat, to study the urban heat islandeffect in Phoenix and six other cities across the country. They hope that by capturing infrared thermal images of the cities,the satellitewill generate block-by-block data on heat trends, which could help urban planners design cooler cityscapes to withstand the effects as the world continues to heat up due to the burning of fossil fuels.

Students Sarah Rogers, Vivek Chacko and Raj Biswas discuss testing an electrical interface board for the Phoenix CubeSat in a lab at Arizona State University.(Photo: Yegor Zenkov/Arizona State University)

Four years ago, the students wrote a proposal to build the satellite and obtained $200,000 in NASA funding. A total of about 80 undergraduate students took part in the project. Many of them spent long hours designing the spacecraft, piecing together the components, testing its systems, and writing code to make it all work.

For the core group who continued working on the CubeSat after graduating, the Nov. 2 launch was a milestone to celebrate.

It was probably the most memorable experience Ive ever had in my life, Sarah Rogers, the 22-year-old project manager, said.I shed a couple of tears of joy as I was watching it go up.

The rocket sent a Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft soaring into orbit to resupply the space station. Along with the Phoenix satellite and other cargo, the spacecraft delivered six other CubeSats made by students at other universities.

The Phoenix CubeSat will remain aboard the space station until mid-January when its scheduled to deploy into orbit and begin using its infrared camera to capture thermal images of Phoenix and other cities.

Many other satellites are circling the Earth recording images, but almost all of them look at the visible spectrum of light or near-infrared, which helps scientists study vegetation. Thermal images arent as common.

From left to right, student Vivek Chacko, Assistant Professor Danny Jacobs, student Sarah Rogers, and Professor Judd Bowman pose with the Phoenix spacecraft at Arizona State University before the satellite was delivered to be launched into space.(Photo: Vivek Chacko/Arizona State University)

The idea for the satellitewas suggested to the students by Judd Bowman, a professor in the School Of Earth and Space Exploration who is the principal investigator and faculty sponsor of the project.When the students started working on the project, many of them were freshmen just starting to study engineering or computer science.

They began as a team with a lot of excitement but no experience, Danny Jacobs, an assistant professor and faculty adviser on the project, said.The most important thing to come out of this mission are the 80 students that worked on it.

Jacobs said the project is ambitious, and the delivery of the satellite in August was a major success.

Once the spacecraftis in orbit, it will produce heat maps that show trends at the neighborhood level and over time, providing valuable data that city planners will be able to put to use, Jacobs said.

In addition to focusing on Phoenix, the plan is for the satellite to gather thermal images of Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, Baltimore and Minneapolis.

Alongside the rises in global temperatures unleashed byclimate change, urban heat islands add to hotter conditions in cities. The vast areas that are paved over with concrete and asphalt soak up the suns heat, and then radiate it at night, pushing temperatures higher.

Extreme summer heat has long been part of life in Phoenix, which is the countys hottest major city. But climate change and the heat island effect are combining to drive temperatures to new highs.

The number of record-hot summer days has risen dramatically in the past decade. Nights have also grown warmer. And heat-associated deaths in the Phoenix area are on the rise, reaching a record of 182 deaths reported in Maricopa County last year.

Long-term strategies for combatting heat in cities range from installing cool roofs that reflect more sunlight to planting trees to give neighborhoods more shade.

Rogers and other members of the ASU team hope that data collected by the satellite will help guide decisions about these sorts of remedies by capturing block-by-block images showing areas that are hotter or cooler.

RECORD HIGH: Heat deaths in Phoenix reached a record high in 2018

Working in a lab at Arizona State University, students discuss how satellite components will connect with each other.(Photo: Yegor Zenkov/Arizona State University)

The students worked on the satellite in a lab in the basement of ASUs Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building 4.

Rogers, who was born and raised in Tempe, majored in aerospace engineering and had joined the Sun Devil Satellite Laboratory during her freshman year in 2015. That fall, she and other students got word from Bowman that NASA was offering grants allowing undergraduates to take on projects such as building CubeSats.

Bowman recruited some students to work on the design and others to start analyzing the science side of the project. Rogers took on the job of project manager.

In April 2016, the team learned that they would receive NASA funding. They started selecting off-the-shelf components, buying two of each so they would have an engineering model and spare parts to draw from if needed.

The students designed and built the satellite's structure, as well as interface ports for data and power, Rogers said.

They encountered challenges in deciphering how to integrate the parts, and in staying on track with the timeline. They developed lab procedures for working with the hardware to make sure they werent damaging anything as they assembled the satellite.

Rogers graduated in May with her bachelors degree and stayed on this fall to start a masters degree program in aerospace engineering at ASU.

Student Sarah Rogers holds the miniature satellite Phoenix, which she and other students built at Arizona State University.(Photo: School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University)

Last summer, she and other students focused on the finishing touches, often working late into the night taking apart the pieces and putting them back together, and finishing the software. Rogers said she usually arrived at the lab at 7 a.m. and worked until midnight.

In August, Rogers and fellow teammate Vivek Chacko flew to Houston to hand-deliver the spacecraft.

The students are now preparing for the next phase, which will involve operating the satellite from a station on the ASU campus in Tempe.

Phoenixs infrared camera is equipped with a lens that will capture 68 meters per pixel, allowing the satellite to make thermal images down to a resolution showing city blocks.

Some of the students created detailed maps of each city dividing the landscape into 17 climate zones, ranging from compact low-rise to open mid-rise to scattered trees.

Once the team gets thermal images from space, they plan to overlay them on the climate-zone maps to analyze what theyre seeing. They also plan to check temperatures recorded in the thermal images against on-the-ground measurements.

What we plan to do is analyze how the makeup of our urban infrastructure itself is contributing to having warmer areas, Rogers said. She said the results should help show how we can either adjust building materials or adjust the layout of the urban infrastructure to make our cities a lot more sustainable for future generations.

Mission manager Jake Cornish of the company Nanoracks checks that the Phoenix CubeSat, which was built by students at Arizona State University, is sized correctly to be deployed from the International Space Station.(Photo: Vivek Chacko/Arizona State University)

They calculate that the satellitewill be in space for two years before it reenters the atmosphere and burns up. They hope itwill function for at least a year to study changes during the four seasons.

Once Rogers and her team analyze the data, they intend to present the information to city planners.

Our mission is novel, and the way that were studying the urban heat island effect itself is also still relatively new within the scientific community, Rogers said. So, were really excited to get data back and start analyzing it.

She said with the effects of climate change worsening in recent years, one of her teams main goals has been to build a piece of technology that will enable cities to pinpoint actions that can help combat heat.

COULD PHOENIX BE NEXT?: L.A. installs off-white streets to beat heat.

For now, Phoenix has been placed inside a deployer pod on the space station. Sometime in January, astronauts plan to deploy the CubeSatinto orbit. If all goes as planned, a door will pop open and a spring will eject the satelliteinto space.

Rogers and her colleagues are looking forward to watching a NASA livestream as the satellite tumbles off into space a motion that will slow and stop once the control system kicks in.

For now, the team has been sharing a video that Rogers classmate Trevor Bautista recorded of the rocket thundering into the sky in Virginia.

It feels so incredible to know that Phoenix is soon going to be able to do everything that weve designed it to do, and really make a difference, Rogers said. Honestly, I just feel over the moon.

In fact, Rogers said shes inspired by NASAs plans for returning to the moon with astronauts. And the Phoenix CubeSat mission has helped her prepare for the next phase of her space career.

She said her goal is to work as a systems engineer on other missions, building spacecraft to study planets and enable humans to learn more about the universe.

Reach reporter Ian James at ian.james@arizonarepublic.com or 602-444-8246. Follow him on Twitter: @ByIanJames

Support local journalism:Subscribe to azcentral.com today.

Environmental coverage on azcentral.com and in The Arizona Republic is supported by a grant from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust. Follow The Republic environmental reporting team at environment.azcentral.com and at OurGrandAZ on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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Satellite built by students soars to space on mission to map heat in Phoenix, other cities - AZCentral

CyberSat Sees Dueling Views of Russia as Partner, Adversary in Space – Via Satellite

DIA Director Lt. General Robert Ashley giving his keynote at CyberSat 2019. Photo: Shaun Waterman/Via Satellite

When it comes to outer space, Russia is both a partner and an adversary for the U.S., a duality made clear by two very different keynotes at Thursdays CyberSat 2019 conference.

NASA CIO Renne Wynn cheerily highlighted the ways the two nations cooperate in space Russia has a module on the International Space Station (ISS) and provides the launch capabilities that keep ISS supplied. But Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Director Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley grimly noted that Russian military theory sees space supremacy as the key to victory in military conflicts on the ground, at sea and in the air.

Russia understands that the ability to degrade or deny U.S. space capabilities will offer forces an advantage not just in space itself but in traditional war-fighting environments, he said. Their military thinkers believe that the ability to achieve space supremacy will be a decisive factor in future conflicts, he added.

That understanding, he explained, underpinned a 2015 military reorganization Moscow undertook to put space, aerospace and air defense into a single entity. Russian officials said that move was prompted by a shift in the center of gravity (of military power) towards the aerospace sphere, Ashley added.

That shift is driven in part by the increasing reliance of the U.S. and other militaries on commercial satellite capabilities, meaning that non-military satellites would be targeted in any conflict, he said.

Russia was developing ground-based mobile missiles with the capability to destroy satellites in Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) which would become operational within the next few years, he said. He added that they were also working on directed energy weapons intended to target satellites and their sensors.

Russia was also developing orbital technologies with inherent dual use capabilities, such as a satellite that could maneuver to inspect and repair other satellites on orbit. Certainly its easy to imagine the dual use capabilities of such technology, he said.

But DIAs role was to ensure policymakers didnt have to use their imaginations, Ashley said. Its our responsibility to provide an understanding of what theyre investing in, what theyre capable of, (and) what they intend to use those capabilities for: How they will fight us.

Moscow believes that developing counter-space weapons will help deter space-based adversaries and, if that deterrence failed, would offer flexible escalation options to Russias leaders, Ashley said.

But those same leaders, Wynn said, were committed to peacefully exploring space with the U.S. as a partner.

The Russian approach to space exploration is a place where our countries continue to thrive in terms of a relationship, she said. Space is a place where geopolitics seems to get left behind because our innate desire as humans to explore takes over, she added.

Two years ago, during a very tense point in our relations, Wynn said she visited Russia, and despite the prevailing tensions, got the red carpet treatment even as diplomats and other U.S. officials were being frozen out. Because I was representing NASA and space exploration, I was treated differently than other federal government employees, she said, because space is viewed as a place where we stay together.

At the same time, she acknowledged, those joint operations like the launches of NASA space assets from Russias Baikanor Cosmodrome presented cybersecurity risks that had to be mitigated.

My IT is in Baikanor, she said, noting that NASA used a Russian data center there. Our data are moving in and out of that country and riding their stuff.

You have to understand your network topology, where your data are going and you just put in mitigations to ensure that if they pick up anything in transport, you strip it off in transport, she said, adding that the mitigations included gates, monitoring and other things she couldnt discuss in an unclassified setting.

Some observers at the event were unimpressed by Wynns comments. Bob Gourley, a technologist and entrepreneur who was previously the CTO of DIA, dinged his former agency, saying they should be doing more to help NASA secure their IT systems against foreign state hackers and cyberspies. Who is briefing (NASA) on the cyber threats? he asked, Someone needs to be providing intelligence support.

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CyberSat Sees Dueling Views of Russia as Partner, Adversary in Space - Via Satellite

The Best Place to Train Astronauts Exists on Earth, But Not Where You’d Think – VICE UK

This article originally appeared on VICE Italy.

Could heading deep into the bowels of the earth help train us for life on other planets? This is the idea behind the CAVES (Cooperative Adventure for Valuing and Exercising human behaviour and performance Skills surely the furthest reach an acronym has made in decades) programme, led by the European Space Agency (ESA). The project sends astronauts to live in a cave for six days, with the task of exploring, mapping and conducting scientific experiments and coming back in one piece.

Its whats known as an analogue mission: one carried out on earth to simulate space travel. Immersed in an entirely alien environment, astronauts improve their communication and problem-solving skills and test the tools and technologies they will use in future missions. The long-term goal of CAVES is to lay the foundations for future exploration of the Moon, and, going a bit further, Mars. Caves welcome and protect us: the thinking goes that they will be our first home when we arrive on other planets.

The astronauts climb the walls of the Divaka Jama caves. Image: ESA by A Romeo

The sixth CAVES simulation was completed in September, and took place for the first time in Slovenias Divaka Jama cave, just a few kilometres from the Italian border and 250 metres underground at its deepest point. Six astronauts from five different space agencies lived for six days and six nights in total darkness, at six degrees Celsius and 100 percent humidity.

I had this idea for preparing astronauts to become efficient and reliable members of long-duration flights and explorations,'' says ESA astronaut trainer Loredana Bessone, the brains behind CAVES. I wanted something that allowed me to replicate that particular condition of stress.

The astronauts setting up base camp. Image: ESA by A Romeo

Calling it a simulation is a bit of an understatement. The cave is real and the risks are real, says Bessone. Astronauts have to learn how to cope with the fear.

The cavenauts werent entirely alone in their mission. They were supported albeit from a distance by a group of real speleologists, people who study caves. The logistics of the whole operation were managed by the start up Miles Beyond, which specialises in providing support in extreme environments. Outside the cave we had a team of 25 people ready to intervene, says Tullio Bernabei, a speleology professor and member of Miles Beyond.

The astronauts of the sixth CAVES mission exploring the Divaka Jama caves in Slovenia. Image: ESA by A Romeo

On the 25th of September, the six cavenauts emerged, looking a bit rough from their time underground. The next day, with the sun shining in Divaka Jama, most of them wore sunglasses to protect themselves from the intense light, and hide the signs of a week of extreme training. I was one of the people gathered there to hear what it was like.

Astronaut Joshua Kutryk (middle) using sampling tools before the mission. Image: ESA by A Romeo

VICE: Had you been down into a cave before? Joshua: Kutryk: No, this was my first time. The environment is very dangerous and for many of us it was something completely new. It was great training and it really is as challenging as they describe it.

How did you find the environment? Was it really so alienating? A cave is a great place to experience that prolonged sense of isolation. Even reaching the starting point of the mission, where we set up base camp, was really difficult because we had to go down tens and tens of metres. It took a lot of rope, time and work even just to get started. Its during these simulations that we understand how even the smallest mistake can have terrible effects.

Did you have to protect yourselves from bats?[Laughs] No! Theres no bats that deep down. But there are forms of microscopic life that are definitely fascinating.

Astronaut Alexander Gerst from the ESA during the mission. Image: ESA by A Romeo

VICE: Youre laying the foundations for future extraterrestrial settlements. The future seems both very far and very near. Mars and the Moon have many caves. They are much wider than the ones on Earth up to a kilometre wide and hundreds deep. Imagine what that means you could build a city for hundreds of thousands of inhabitants. It sounds crazy, but its true.

On earth we think of caves as a hostile environment, only because we have the luxury of having an atmosphere that suits us. On other planets, however, caves will be the best places to live. We will have to explore them and to do so we must prepare now.

NASA astronaut Joe Acaba (right) during the mission in Slovenia. Image: ESA by A Romeo

VICE: You look really tired. How did it go? Joe Acaba: Great. CAVES is by far one of the best analogue missions out there to prepare for space travel. You learn to manage your equipment and you understand to what extent your life and that of your team depends on the support of everybody involved.

Did you get any sleep? Definitely. The days were long, the cave was freezing and once I got into my sleeping bag, I fell asleep in a matter of seconds. But we were in a cave, so if someone started to snore, the echo was really loud!

Will you go to the lunar caves? I dont know when I will go back into space. Ive been three times, the last in 2018. But I get really excited thinking about the future, when humanity will go back to the Moon.

NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps during the mission. Image: ESA by V Crobu

VICE: You took part in NEEMO [the NASA analogue mission set in a submarine station] and became a waternaut, and now youre a cavenaut. When will you become an astronaut? Jeanette Epps: [Laughs] I hope very soon! Im not sure when it will be, exactly, but I know that analogue missions like CAVES are helping me get ready. The cave is an extreme environment and it was really alienating to be so deep underground for six days.

How did it feel exploring a cave? You feel the stress. Our main daily goal was to protect our own and the others safety. The exploration was really difficult. It was dark, slippery, hostile down there. When it started raining, things got a lot worse. It was hard but it was a wonderful experience. I learnt to know myself better and to understand certain aspects of my body in certain situations. What I learnt in these six days will be fundamental once I go up there, into space.

Roscosmos cosmonaut Nikolai Chub during the caves mission. Image: ESA by V Crobu

VICE: Had you already taken part in other analogue missions? Nicolai Chub: Yes, I took part in NASAs NEEMO, but it doesnt compare to CAVES. The daily tasks on this cave mission were really demanding and the risks were constant and variable.

What pushes a cosmonaut to go down into a cave? We have to be ready for anything, for any possible event. Even for an emergency landing anywhere on earth. Thats why we train to survive in the desert, in the forest, underwater, at high altitude and even in a cave. It was really a unique mission. Life in there is not normal.

VICE: Had you prepared for the experience? Takuya Onishi: Id received no specific training but when we arrived here in Slovenia we did a ten-day course on the basics of speleology. Before that, nothing. It was a real challenge for me.

How will you use the experience you developed in this mission? You know, one of the biggest problems well have once we get to the Moon or Mars will be radiation. Well have to protect ourselves somehow. Were already thinking about building the first human outposts in caves. This CAVES programme is one of the first bricks of knowledge that will allow humanity to push itself further and further. Always further, to explore the unknown. The caves gave us a home and sheltered us during explorations in the past. They will do so in the future. They will be our first home.

To see more images from the latest CAVES mission, head here.


The Best Place to Train Astronauts Exists on Earth, But Not Where You'd Think - VICE UK

Student Networks with Astronauts, Space Experts at International Meeting – Tennessee Today

Samantha Ramsey had an out-of-this-world experience last month when she attended the 70th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Washington, DC.

Ramsey, a first-generation college student and junior aerospace engineering major in UTs Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering, was one of a handful of students selected by the national section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) to attend IAC as a diversity scholar.

Hosted by AIAA, IAC brought together more than 6,500 people from 70 different countries to celebrate both the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission and the international accomplishments and partnerships that have become the hallmark of space exploration. This was the first time in almost 20 years IAC was held in the United States.

AIAAs Diversity Scholars Program, sponsored by Aurora Flight Sciences and Boeing Company, provides opportunities for underrepresented university students pursuing an aerospace degree to attend an AIAA forum. The scholarship covered all costs associated with attending IAC and included invitations to special events held during the conference.

[Note: Ramsey will talk about her experience at IAC at UTs AIAA chapter meeting at 6 p.m. on November 20 in the Min H. Kao Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Building, Room 622.]

Originally from Adams Run, a small town in South Carolina, Ramsey had to go to work after graduating from high school in order to support herself. After working for various nonprofits for eight years, she enrolled in college.

Being a first-generation student and adult returning to college, on top of being a woman in engineering, can be extremely challenging, said Ramsey. Being selected as a diversity scholar felt almost like an affirmation that, although I may not look like a typical engineering student, I do belong here and that all of my hard work is paying off.

As a diversity scholar, Ramsey was invited to breakfast with astronaut Frank Culbertson and lunch with astronaut Sandy Magnus. She met the CEOs and presidents of some of the biggest companies in the aerospace engineering industry, including Boeing and Lockheed Martin, and attended a private party for the Planetary Society, where she hung out with Bill Nye the Science Guy. She also shared a table at a diversity luncheon with former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second person to walk on the moon.

Attending the IAC was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, said Ramsey. I was also able to connect with international industry leaders, professors at my top choices for graduate school, and even childhood heroes. I have come away completely overflowing with inspiration, and more excited than ever to continue my education.

Ramsey plans to use the knowledge she gained at the conference in her undergrad research shes doing with the trajectory team at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center under the direction of Stephanie TerMaath, the Jessie Zeanah Faculty Fellow in UTs Tickle College of Engineering.

Before attending IAC I had no idea how important it is to establish and maintain international relationships within the space community. But from the people I met, the things I learned, and the global technologies I was able to experience, I have gained a completely new understanding and appreciation for the work that is being done all around the world, she said.

Although shes only a junior, Ramsey joined the interplanetary trajectory senior design team this year and competed last week in the Vanderbilt Hackathon, building a virtual reality simulation of the Milky Way galaxy and mapping the stars and major constellations. The team won the A Code of Art category for creating the most beautiful and stylistically inspiring project.

This past summer she interned on the mission design and analysis branch of the trajectory team at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, where she studied the celestial mechanics of the earthmoon system and built a program to help automate the process of determining launch windows for future Space Launch System missions. Ramsey hopes to continue interning there until she graduates.

Ramsey isnt sure what the future holds, but she aspires to attend graduate school, receive a doctorate in astrodynamics, and possibly study space law. One thing is for certain: she wants to continue being a role model for diversity in engineering, something shes very passionate about.

No matter where she ends up, she wants to work in astrodynamics and orbital mechanics and hopefully help calculate the trajectories for future deep space exploration missions.


Kathy Williams (865-974-8615, williamk@utk.edu)

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Student Networks with Astronauts, Space Experts at International Meeting - Tennessee Today

This is the 1st Photo of China’s Mars Explorer Launching in 2020 – Space.com

The first picture of China's new Mars explorer has been unveiled,setting the stage for an ambitious mission the country will launch to the Red Planet next year.

"The mission is going smoothly," the state-runChina Global Television Network(CGTV) quoted Ye Jianpei, chief scientist of Space Science and Deep-space Exploration with the Chinese Space Technology Academy, as saying. "If no surprise, the Mars explorer is going to be launched in 2020, and land before 2021.

The image of an encapsulated spacecraft within its cocoon-like aeroshell was issued by the China Aerospace Technology Corporation. Earlier stories by Chinese space officials said the mission includes an orbiter, lander, and a rover.

Related: China On the Moon! A History of Chinese Lunar Missions in Pictures

An artist's concept of China's planned Mars lander and rover on the surface of the Red Planet. The mission launches in 2020.

(Image credit: Xinhua/Alamy)

The mission is designed to examine the Red Planet's atmosphere, landscape, geological and magnetic characteristics, which could provide clues to the origin and evolution of Mars and the solar system, Ye said.

Mars exploration is very innovative. If it proves to be a success, it will be the worlds first time a country completes the three tasks in one mission, Ye added.

To reach Mars, the spacecraft will be sent into geosynchronous orbit via the heavy-lift Long March 5 rocket a booster that is up for another flight to certify it is ready to carry payloads to the moon and Mars.

Following that phase, the Mars probe will have a seven-month flight to the Red Planet. In an August 2016 video, China's upcoming Mars mission was said to feature an orbiter, lander and a rover.

Chinas Mars explorer will have company.

The favorable Mars opposition launch window in 2020 is the target for the European Space Agency's ExoMars rover mission (now facing parachute test issues); NASA's Mars 2020 mega-rover; as well as the UAE's Hope Mars orbiter.

Leonard David is author of the recently released book, "Moon Rush: The New Space Race" published by National Geographic in May 2019. A longtime writer for Space.com, David has been reporting on the space industry for more than five decades. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.


This is the 1st Photo of China's Mars Explorer Launching in 2020 - Space.com

Milestones to Moonshots: The Past, Present and Future of Space Exploration Now. Powered by – Now. Powered by Northrop Grumman.

1.1 Establishment of NASA, Oct. 1, 1958 https://www.nasa.gov/content/nasa-history-overview

NASA begins operation. The agencys passion for discovery and commitment to innovation fuel the future of space exploration.

1.2 Project Mercury, Feb. 20, 1962 https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/mercury/index.html

Astronaut John Glenn, onboard Friendship 7, orbits the Earth in NASAs Mercury capsule, expanding our perception of the possible.

1.3 Apollo 11 Moon Landing, July 20, 1969 https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/apollo/apollo-11.html

With one small step, Neil Armstrong and the Apollo 11 crew make a giant leap for the future of human space travel.

1.4 Voyager, Sept. 5, 1977 https://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/

Interstellar probe Voyager 1 launches from Cape Canaveral on a mission to explore the universe. Today, the craft is more than 13 billion miles from Earth.

1.5 Opportunity, Jan. 3, 2004 https://mars.nasa.gov/mer/mission/overview/

NASAs Opportunity rover sets a new standard for the future of space exploration, covering more than 28 miles of Martian surface over 15 years.

1.6 Cygnus, Sept. 2013 https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/elements/cygnus.html#.XN2ZLshKhPZ

Closer to home, the Cygnus cargo delivery spacecraft first launched in 2013, providing a critical resupply line for the International Space Station (ISS).

1.7 Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), April 18, 2018 https://tess.mit.edu/science/

TESS will spend two years looking into the sky and deep into space to find thousands of exoplanets and help bolster the search for habitable worlds beyond our solar system.

1.8 Orion Launch Abort System (LAS), In Development https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/orion_las_fact_sheet_8.5x11_4page_11_19_15.pdf

The Orion LAS protects astronauts if something goes wrong its abort motor produces over 400,000 pounds of thrust to pull the spacecraft out of harms way.

1.9 James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), Launch in 2021 https://jwst.nasa.gov/about.html

The JWST features a 6.5-meter ultra-lightweight beryllium mirror and five-layer sunshield capable of attenuating the suns heat more than a million-fold.

1.10 Space Launch System (SLS) Solid Rocket Boosters, In Development https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/sls_solid_rocket_booster_fact_sheet_final_508_june2018.pdf

SLS solid rocket boosters are the most powerful ever built for flight. Standing 17 stories tall and burning six tons of propellant per second, theyre powering the future of space exploration.

Interested in all things on the space? We are too. Take a look at our open positions and consider joining our team: NorthropGrumman.com/careers.

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Milestones to Moonshots: The Past, Present and Future of Space Exploration Now. Powered by - Now. Powered by Northrop Grumman.

Sierra Nevadas Dream Chaser closer to reality with production of spacecraft starting in earnest – The Denver Post

Sierra Nevada Corp. opened part of its plant in Louisville on Tuesday to the public to celebrate the arrival of the primary structure of Dream Chaser, a winged craft scheduled to make its first flight to the International Space Station in 2021.

The 2,200-pound, all-composite structure is the core element of the craft. It was designed by Sierra Nevada and built by Lockheed Martin in facilities in Fort Worth, Texas, and New Orleans.

Now, Sierra Nevada Space Systems employees will start adding the mechanical, electrical and other systems theyve built and tested. Fully outfitted, Dream Chaser will weigh 24,000 pounds.

Were going to do an employee event tomorrow so that all of our team that has worked so hard on this can come together and celebrate. And then were locking the doors and were going to build, said Steven Lindsey, the companys senior vice president of space exploration systems. Its all about building this thing and getting it to flight.

Lindsey, a former astronaut who piloted two space shuttle flights for NASA and commanded another three, is among the Sierra Nevada employees who have been working on Dream Chaser for more than a decade. The company won a NASA contract for six missions through 2024.

The flight will be automated, so there will be no crew. However, Sierra Nevada has said it hopes to one day send a crew to the space station.

NASA will pay Sierra Nevada roughly $2 billion to $2.5 billion for its services, according to the agency. Dream Chaser will ferry supplies and other cargo to the space station and bring back such items as important scientific projects.

For its part, Sierra Nevada has invested more than $1 billion in the program, Lindsey said.

Another Colorado company, United Launch Alliance, is also involved with Dream Chaser. Sierra Nevada selected the Centennial-based company to provide the launch vehicle, which will be the new Vulcan Centaur rocket.

Dream Chaser will be the only winged spacecraft flying to the space station, harking back to the space shuttles design. It is about 30 feet long and 15 feet wide. While smaller than the space shuttle, the Dream Chaser was designed to hold close to the same volume, up to about 12,000 pounds.

The Dream Chasers ability to land on a runway is seen as vital to carrying out one of its primary missions, ferrying scientific materials. Kirk Shireman, the International Space Stations program manager, said a recent mission didnt make the deadline for getting time-sensitive results to scientists because of the remoteness of the touch-down and logistical problems.

RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post

In contrast, the Dream Chaser will return to the Kennedy Space Center, close to the scientists who are waiting, Shireman said.

The Dream Chaser was designed with the idea of ensuring as smooth a ride as possible for the cargo, Sierra Nevada officials said. The vehicles wings arent as big as the space shuttles. Most of the lift is created by its underside, which is wide and flat. An advantage of whats called a lifting-body spacecraft is that the g-forces, or gravitational forces, are much lower during re-entry than on a capsule, according to the company.

Landing safely and softly on the runway while being close to our facilities is really, really important, Shireman said.

John Curry, Sierra Nevadas senior director and co-program manager of space exploration systems, said the company incorporated lessons learned from the design and flights of the space shuttle. I really do think we have a game-changer here.

Sierra Nevadas Dream Chaser team is made up of about 600 employees, with 400 of those in Colorado. Space Systems is one of the business divisions of Sierra Nevada, based in Sparks, Nev.

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Sierra Nevadas Dream Chaser closer to reality with production of spacecraft starting in earnest - The Denver Post

The Space Industry Is Getting Down to Business – BRINK

A NASA crewmember took this photo showing off the blackness of space and Earth's horizon while he was docked with the International Space Station. Space has attracted an astounding amount of creative energy over the last decade.

Photo: NASA via Getty Images

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Over the last decade, the space ecosystem has been evolving, increasingly exploring ways to create an economic sphere driven by the private sector. Space exploration was initially the provenance of governments the only entities that could afford complex, risky endeavors that had no basis in profit generation. Today, a survey of the space ecosystem shows all types of new companies, from small two-person ventures to large corporations, pursuing many different business concepts. In addition, companies that have engaged in space activities for decades are rethinking and adjusting their approaches in the context of the changes taking place.

What is driving this dynamic? Fifty years of human engagement in space has created a foundational body of knowledge about building machines to survive uniquely harsh conditions, support humans and operate in a remote and challenging environment. This broad experience base, now accessible to everyone across the globe, combined with incredible advancements in computing, electronics, materials and other technologies, has lowered the barriers to entry for engaging in space business. One particularly important development has been the emergence of smaller satellites, resulting in a surge of startup satellite companies and new investment.

While space exploration is still risky and relatively expensive, the investment profile has shifted to allow the establishment of startups with less capital (millions, not billions) that seek success through business-driven innovation as well as technology. Space businesses today face familiar issues for any sector: markets, demand, business plans, investment and regulations.

Some new space entrants are well-known, backed by billionaires inspired by the Apollo program: Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin and SpaceX. Surrounding these companies are hundreds of small startups, founded by space veterans and college students, eager to engage in space. Many are focused on exploiting the technology of cubesats and smallsats and some are interested in robotic servicing. Others are tackling the challenging task of human spaceflight, either by providing vehicles or platforms for private space farers to visit or do business. Ideas abound and the industry is teeming with energy and investment.

Source: Bryce Space and Technology

Much of the emerging activity is centered in the United States, an ecosystem that was fostered by U.S. policy decisions in the mid-2000s, but the rest of the globe is following close behind. Entrepreneurial activity is flourishing in many places globally, including China, where the concept of commercial may not be quite consistent with a U.S. definition.

The momentum to expand the space-based economy has challenged both national governments and international bodies to resolve new and complex issues, including: identifying appropriate regulations and standards, establishing liability and applicable tenets of space law, defining rules of conduct on orbit for both people and machines and the integration of air and space traffic into a manageable global system. Companies interested in engaging in space also must grapple with how to develop appropriate business plans and secure funding while understanding the dynamics of supply and demand in a frontier environment. It is commonplace that venture investment and a rapid startup pace result in a high proportion of failed businesses as well as dynamic successes. To complicate matters even further, all of the above issues are interwoven and cannot readily be addressed in isolation.

Source: Bryce Space and Technology

Space has attracted an astounding amount of creative energy over the last decade. Hundreds of new investors have entered the space ecosystem, proposing space hotels, human transportation systems, human-tended laboratories, in-space manufacturing, energy harvesting, asteroid mining, fueling depots, Earth imagery, small satellite constellation-based internet services and the list goes on.

Source: Bryce Space and Technology

Accompanying the proposals is a separate but related collection of companies created to offer services from communication technologies, sensor platforms, training programs, propulsion technologies, specialized launch services and so on another huge grouping of entrepreneurial activity. Long-standing space companies are also innovating, leveraging years of experience and extraordinary R&D expertise to take advantage of the broad interest that has erupted around space. Clearly not every project or idea will be successful; space exploration is hard, both technologically and financially. In the face of challenges, the momentum of human expansion is taking us into this new frontier and so we will go.

Source: Bryce Space and Technology

How can we manage the evolution of such a diverse, dynamic ecosystem of space participants to achieve our collective goals? In addition to the traditional space community of engineers, scientists, technicians and government agents, we must add lawyers, entrepreneurs, investors of all stripes, insurance companies, standards organizations, university professors and their students, small businesses, artists and entertainers, just to name a few. In the past, the space industry has been accused of talking to itself; now, we have to learn how to reach out and engage with a much more diverse community with many different agendas, concerns and motivations. Complicating the situation is the fact that the transition discussed here is taking place globally. The need for constant communication and open discourse becomes vital.

The time is ripe for a platform that convenes the entire global ecosystem, not just the traditional aerospace industry, to facilitate the necessary conversations, target outcomes and track the resolution of critical issues. Working together, coherently as a broad community of interest in space, we can succeed.

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The Space Industry Is Getting Down to Business - BRINK

UNM to host live chat with International Space Station astronauts – UNM Newsroom

The University of New Mexico and The Childrens Hour will host a live chat with astronauts from the International Space Station in December. This is a rare and out of this world opportunity for students to engage with NASA astronauts, space experts and other space enthusiasts in an interactive atmosphere.

The NASA In-Flight Education Downlink, planned for Tuesday, Dec. 10 from 9:30-11:30 a.m. at UNMs Student Union Building (SUB), is open and free to students throughout New Mexico. UNM and The Childrens Hour are extending an invitation to all of New Mexicos space enthusiasts for the live chat.

The event will be full of exciting experts from NASA and experts doing NASA work in New Mexico, as well as fun activities and information booths to get students set on a path to be stars.

Students will ask pre-submitted questions directly to astronauts about life aboard the space station, NASAs deep space exploration plans and what its like to conduct science in space. Students can prepare for the event by participating in existing NASA education/citizen science activities, reading up on the space station, astronaut biographies and about current research activities happening aboard the station. Open submission of questions for the astronauts will be accepted through Nov. 17. Questions can be submitted toThe Childrens Hour.

This event is a great opportunity for teachers to engage students similar to an interactive mission control environment. This event is designed for students in grades 4-9 grades as well as high school students, and undergraduate students at UNM who have not discovered their passion for a career. UNM Professor Dave Hanson

International Space Station In-flight Education Downlinks support NASA's efforts to encourage K-12 students to study and pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Downlinks are facilitated by the Johnson SpaceCenter Office of STEM Engagement as part of STEM on Station, and use the unique experience of human spaceflight to promote and enhance STEM education.Astronauts living on the orbiting laboratoryare able toparticipate in these educational calls, and communicate 24 hours a day with the Mission Control Center at NASAs Johnson Space Center in Houston,through the agencySpace Networks Tracking and Data Relay Satellites.

The goal is to inspire students with fields related to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM); to help teachers stimulate the interests of their classes in these subjects; and ultimately, through their students' pursuit of dreams, to advance American achievements in discovery, invention and exploration. Specific learning objectives for the event include creating interest among interested students in STEM by connecting with ordinary experience to extraordinary opportunities; demystify science by conducting real-world science; and develop community connections so youth have near-peer mentors at every stage of their education.

The event schedule also includes: an interactive jumping activity with a performance by the Albuquerque Air Jump Rope Team; Q&A/presentations by NASA contractor Jacob Torres, a New Mexico native working at NASAs Kennedy Space Center on efforts to grow New Mexico green chile in space; NASA staff member Kurt Luecht on in-situ resource utilization for exploration of the moon and Mars, current NASA interns working on plant growth (livestream from Kennedy); a presentation by UNMs Charles Chip Shearer on his new project at UNM to examine moon cores from Apollo 17and much more!

Additionally, audiences throughout New Mexico will be able to participate through the listening audience of The Childrens Hour broadcasting, Saturday at 9 a.m. on KUNM, as well as other large networks of local museums including Explora Science Center & Childrens Museum, New Mexico Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of Nuclear Sciences and History.

Learning activities will also be available and can be done anywhere across the state in classrooms, participating museums and even at home. These events will include competitions, NASA citizen science activities and ongoing space and STEM-related museum activities. For more information on the event, visit NASA In-Flight Education Downlink.

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UNM to host live chat with International Space Station astronauts - UNM Newsroom

Why NASA’s Renewed Efforts In Space Exploration Are Great News For The Fuel Cell Industry – Forbes

Nearly two years after the launch of the ambitious White House Space Policy Directive 1and in the wake of this year's 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, the team at NASA appears to be on the verge of a space renaissance. The agency is busier than ever, with recent months bringing a new generation of climbing robots, confirmation of a long-planned mission to Jupiter's icy moon Europa and announcements surrounding dozens of other promising endeavors.

For science lovers, these developments inspire excitement over our long-term prospects as a space-faring civilization. However, leaders and other stakeholders in the fuel cell industry also have good reason to be excited. NASA has always been an important player in the history and advancement of hydrogen fuel cell technology, and with so many projects in the works, the agency looks poised to deliver on some revolutionary ideas in the months and years ahead.

A History Of Fuel Cell Innovation

Welsh physicist Sir William Robert Grove invented the first fuel cell in 1842, but it saw little advancement in the decades immediately following its invention. In the 1950s, NASA (then known as NACA) scientists settled on fuel cell technology as the best option for providing spacecraft with electricity and identified liquid hydrogen as the ideal fuel for achieving the launch capability necessary for space flight.

These early bets on fuel cell technology and hydrogen power kicked off years of internal research and commissioned studies that would bring fuel cell technology into the modern age. From 1950 to 1957, according to researcher and historian John L. Sloop, NASA researchers and funding drove incredible progress in the use of liquid hydrogen as a fuel source. Innovations from this period included a state-of-the-art cryogenics laboratory, improvements on hydrogen liquefaction technology and new mobile containment units for transporting hydrogen in large quantities to name just a few.

Sixty years after NASA's earliest experiments with fuel cell technology, I believe the agency's continued innovations in the field could revolutionize our use of hydrogen power.

Hydrogen Storage

In December 2018, NASA reported that it had broken ground for the world's largest liquid hydrogen storage tank. Previous iterations of the agency's storage tanks had remained essentially unchanged since the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. The report stated that despite their vacuum jacketing and three-foot-thick perlite insulation, those earlier tanks suffered from substantial "boil off" of liquid hydrogen, which is a cryogenic (i.e., super cold) substance that must be kept under -423 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid evaporation.

Now, thanks to its new Integrated Refrigeration and Storage (IRaS) system, NASA scientists can actively remove heat energy from the storage tanks. The numerous new technologies behind IRaS could lead to dramatic improvements in our ability to store hydrogen at scale. This, in turn, could facilitate the success of clean solar and wind energy farms, with hydrogen fuel being used to supplement the inconsistent energy output produced by those sources.

The All-Electric Aircraft

The University of Illinois announced in May (via New Atlas) that NASA had partnered with it to fund a three-year, $6 million project aimed at developing a hydrogen fuel cell system for an all-electric aircraft. To achieve this goal, researchers will need to design a practical cryogenic system that is capable of converting hydrogen chemical energy into electricity while maintaining the low temperatures needed to keep the fuel in its liquid state.

According to research conducted by Germany's Institute of Atmospheric Physics (via New Scientist), current aircrafts are responsible for roughly 5% of all global warming emissions. That figure is expected to rise precipitously in the years ahead. With some climate activists increasingly calling for consumers to shun air travel altogether, the new all-electric aircraft could transform flying into one of the most ethical modes of transportation and drive down ticket prices by eliminating the need for costly jet fuel making international travel more accessible than ever before.

The Regenerative Fuel Cell

According to a July report published by Energy News Network, NASA's reinvigorated plans for a return to the moon have "significantly revitalized" research on the use of fuel cells for space travel at NASA's John H. Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. Researchers have already succeeded in creating many improvements to modern fuel cell technology, including creating a new and improved wicking system for carrying wastewater away from individual fuel cells.

Now, the Glenn Research Center team is working on a regenerative fuel cell that would be capable of producing electricity from hydrogen and water while also performing the reverse function using water and electricity generated by solar panels or other sources to produce hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen production has always been one of the leading obstacles preventing the widespread adoption of fuel cell technology given that the process is so costly. NASA's regenerative fuel cell could form the basis for cheap, solar-powered hydrogen production at scale, which could lead to wider adoption of fuel cell technology for transportation and other applications.

Thanks to NASA's renewed focus on space exploration, it is very likely that we will soon begin to see a pronounced acceleration of advancements in fuel cell technology. Fuel cell industry stakeholders would do well to keep a close eye on whatever comes next from the agency. If history is any indication, it could be a game-changer.

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Why NASA's Renewed Efforts In Space Exploration Are Great News For The Fuel Cell Industry - Forbes

Britain’s first moon rover is a tiny four-legged robot that will launch into space by 2021 – CNBC

Spacebit's moon rover on display at the New Scientist Live event in London on October 10, 2019.

Ryan Browne | CNBC

The U.K. is sending a space exploration rover to the moon, in what will be a first for the country.

The rover is a tiny four-legged robot developed by British start-up Spacebit. It has sensors that can take measurements and collect exploration data for researchers to analyze.

The robot also comes equipped with cameras one of which can take "robot selfies" and can withstand big swings in temperature, from 130 degrees Celsius (266 degrees Fahrenheit) during the day to minus 130 degrees Celsius at night.

It will also eventually be able to navigate through so-called lunar lava tubes, which are tunnels beneath the surface of the moon thought to have once been filled with lava. Spacebit says this is something that hasn't been achieved before.

The company signed an agreement with U.S. firm Astrobotic to launch its first mission in 2021 on Astrobotic's Peregrine lunar lander. The American lander will be launched on a Vulcan rocket from a site at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Spacebit co-founder and CEO Pavlo Tanasyuk said the launch "will carry the first lunar lander from American soil since Apollo."

Britain's rover will be the country's first to be sent to the moon, and will see it join the ranks of the U.S., China and Russia which have all previously accomplished that mission. The U.K. has built another rover, called the Rosalind Franklin, which it hopes will one day land on Mars.

India recently tried to send a rover to the moon, but it lost contact moments before it was set to touch down. The vehicle was reported to have crashed into the lunar surface.

Private companies are hoping to capitalize on the business opportunities presented by space exploration. Morgan Stanley estimates the space economy could be worth more than $1.1 trillion by 2040.

Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic announced earlier this year that it will become the first space tourism company to go public, with a stock market listing expected to take place later this year thanks to a merger with Chamath Palihapitiya's Social Capital Hedosophia.

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Britain's first moon rover is a tiny four-legged robot that will launch into space by 2021 - CNBC

First all-women spacewalk in over 50 years of space exploration to take place Thursday – TheSpec.com

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. NASA is moving up the first all-female spacewalk to this week because of a power system failure at the International Space Station.

Astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir will now venture out Thursday or Friday, instead of next Monday, to deal with the problem. It will be the first spacewalk by only women in more than a half-century of spacewalking.

A critical battery power controller failed over the weekend, prompting the change, NASA officials said Monday. The women will replace the broken component, rather than install new batteries, which was their original job.

Last week, astronauts conducted two spacewalks to replace old batteries that make up the station's solar power network. They have three more spacewalks to go to finish the battery work. The next one was supposed to be Wednesday, but it's off for now.

Each of the new lithium-ion batteries needs a device to regulate the amount of charge going in and out. One of these charge regulators did not kick in Friday night, preventing one of the three newly installed batteries from working. Replacing one of these regulators is a generic job for which all potential spacewalkers train, officials said.

The orbiting lab and its six occupants remain safe, according to NASA, and science operations are unaffected.

NASA originally planned an all-female spacewalk last spring, but had to cancel it because of a shortage of readily available medium-size suits. Koch helped assemble an extra medium suit over the summer.

"Very good that we have 4 expert spacewalkers on board to shoulder this tough task. They are the A-team!" tweeted astronaut Anne McClain, who would have gone spacewalking with Koch in March if not for the suit-sizing issue.

Since the first spacewalk in 1965, there have been 227 spacewalkers, only 14 of them women. Meir will be making her first spacewalk and become No. 15. All but one of these women has been American.

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First all-women spacewalk in over 50 years of space exploration to take place Thursday - TheSpec.com

NASA and SpaceX Aiming For a Manned Mission to Space in Early 2020 – Interesting Engineering

SpaceX could be launching astronauts with its Crew Dragon spacecraft up into space as early as the start of 2020, said NASA Administrator, Jim Bridenstine. If all goes according to plan, this would be a momentous moment for American space exploration.

There has previously been some tension between Bridenstine and SpaceX founder, Elon Musk, over the very delayed Crew Dragon spacecraft. However, the duo have stated that all is well once again.

Once the spacecraft is operational it would serve as the main transportation for astronauts up to the International Space Station (ISS) for the first time for Americans since 2011.


It was at a news conference that Musk and Bridenstine, alongside the two astronauts due to fly out on the Crew Dragon capsule, that Musk announced their hopes of launching into space in early 2020.

However, he strongly stressed that the astronauts' safety comes first and foremost and if there are any issues with the upcoming tests, the launch would be delayed.

Bridenstine backed these comments up by saying "If everything goes according to plan, it would be in the first quarter of next year.But rememberand this is the important thing that we have to get right on messagingthere are still things that we can learn or could learn that could be challenging that we have to resolve."

Bridenstine continued, "I'm not saying that's going to happen, I don't know. That's why wetest."

Testing is crucial, especially as the Crew Dragon's parachutes and propulsion system had some issues earlier this year.

"It's a pretty arduous engineering job to get the parachutes right," said Musk."Parachutes, they look easy but they are definitely not easy. We want to get at least something on the order of 10 successful tests in a row before launching astronauts."

Since closing off its space shuttle program in 2011, NASA has relied on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft to ferry its astronauts to and from the space station. Each seat costs $85 million.

It's quite understandable, then, that NASA has put SpaceX and Boeing in charge of designing and building new space shuttles.

In 2014, NASA awarded SpaceX $2.6 billion for their Crew Dragon project, and Boeing received $4.2 billion for their CST-100 Starliner. The hope is for these companies to build a functional and operational Commercial Crew Program.

Which is exactly what they've been working on, and it looks as though SpaceX may be on the cusp on finalizing their project.

We'll have to wait and see how the tests play out in the coming months, and whether or not we'll be watching the first all-American space shuttle launch in early 2020.

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NASA and SpaceX Aiming For a Manned Mission to Space in Early 2020 - Interesting Engineering

UK’s 1st Moon Rover to Launch in 2021 – Space.com

The United Kingdom is set to make its own giant leap soon, with a very small rover.

A 2.2-lb. (1 kilogram), four-legged robot built by London-based Spacebit will launch aboard Astrobotic's Peregrine moon lander in July of 2021, representatives of both companies announced recently.

It will be a flight of firsts the first mission for both Peregrine and its rocket, United Launch Alliance's new Vulcan Centaur; the first trip to the moon's surface by a UK-built craft; and the first time a legged robot has explored another world.

Related: Moon Rush: These Companies Have Big Plans for Lunar Exploration

"We could not be more excited to fly this mission with Astrobotic," Spacebit CEO Pavlo Tanasyuk said in a statement late last month. "This mission will result in the first payload from the UK to reach the moon surface and mark the beginning of a new era in commercial space exploration for Britain."

The rover will move at least 33 feet (10 meters) on the lunar surface and beam high-definition video and other data home to its handlers during its 10-Earth-day mission, Spacebit representatives said.

And this mission will be just the beginning, if all goes according to plan. Eventually, Spacebit aims to launch a fleet of these little robots to explore the lunar subsurface and near subsurface especially lava tubes that would be a good place for a human settlement, company officials have said.

Spacebit has other ambitions as well, as its website makes clear: "Our main goal is to democratize access to space by tokenizing all of our commercial space missions around the Earth, the moon and beyond. By decentralizing our missions, we also enable citizens to directly take part in or benefit from space programs."

Spacebit's walking rover won't be flying alone on the July 2021 mission; it's one of about 30 payloads that Peregrine will carry to the lunar surface for a variety of customers. Fourteen of those payloads are from NASA, which granted Astrobotic a $79.5 million award for the mission this past May via the agency's Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, or CLPS.

Two other companies got similar CLPS funding: Intuitive Machines, which received $77 million, and Orbit Beyond, which snared $97 million. Intuitive Machines is still shooting for a summer 2021 mission with its Nova-C lunar lander, but Orbit Beyond recently dropped out, saying that it could not meet its ambitious September 2020 target.

The upcoming commercial landings will be historic. To date, successful moon landings have been pulled off only by the government space agencies of three superpowers the Soviet Union, the United States and China.

Two other entities attempted robotic lunar landings this year, but both were unsuccessful. Israel's SpaceIL tried to land the first private moon mission this past April, and India's Chandrayaan-2 lander attempted a touchdown near the lunar south pole last month. The Chandrayaan-2 mission includes a moon orbiter, which is still going strong.

Mike Wall's book about the search for alien life, "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), is out now. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.

Need more space? You can get 5 issues of our partner "All About Space" Magazine for $5 for the latest amazing news from the final frontier!

(Image credit: All About Space magazine)

More here:

UK's 1st Moon Rover to Launch in 2021 - Space.com

NASA’s 1st SLS Megarocket Launch to the Moon Could Be Delayed to 2021 – Space.com

LAS CRUCES, N.M. NASA has yet to set a launch date for the first test flight of its long-delayed Space Launch System (SLS) megarocket, which the agency plans to use to send astronauts to the lunar surface in 2024. And it looks like more delays could be right around the corner.

Although NASA said this summer that its new rocket should finally lift off by the end of 2020, the first mission may slip to the middle of 2021, Ken Bowersox, NASA's acting associate administrator for human exploration and operations, said in a presentation here at the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight (ISPCS) on Oct. 10.

That mission, known as Artemis 1, will send an uncrewed Orion spacecraft on a trip around the moon. Following that initial test flight, NASA aims to launch Artemis 2 the first human mission of NASA's Artemis program in 2022. That mission will fly astronauts on a loop around the moon, but they won't land there just yet.

In 2024, NASA plans to land the first woman and the next man on the lunar surface for the Artemis 3 mission. And in between these two crewed Artemis missions, NASA plans to use an SLS rocket to launch the robotic Europa Clipper mission to Jupiter's moon Europa.

Related: NASA's Space Launch System for Deep Space Flights (Gallery)

NASA is still officially targeting 2020 for the launch of Artemis 1, but this timeline assumes that everything goes according to plan during the testing the agency will be conducting over the next year or so.

"The schedule that we're managing to is very, very aggressive," Bowersox said. He added that the SLS core stage will likely be finished by the end of this year, after which it will be shipped over to NASA's Stennis Space Center for testing, which in the best case scenario should take about five or six months. "But then there's risks like weather, and then we don't know how much refurbishment we might need to do to the stage after we've run those engines for a whole flight duration and a test flight, so we're conservatively thinking we could take an extra couple months to do some of that work."

"In the very best case, we have a chance to actually have a rocket on the pad and launched by the end of next year, but when you start throwing all those different uncertainties, its more likely that we will move out into 2021."

According to Bowersox, NASA will be coming up with a new official launch target after the agency hires a new associate administrator for human exploration and operations; that position was held by Bill Gerstenmaier from 2010 until about three months ago, when he was reassigned as a special advisor to NASA's Deputy Administrator Jim Morhard. While it's not clear exactly when NASA will fill Gerstenmaier's old position, Bowersox said that he expects NASA officials to make a decision within the next few weeks.

Email Hanneke Weitering at hweitering@space.com or follow her @hannekescience. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and onFacebook.


NASA's 1st SLS Megarocket Launch to the Moon Could Be Delayed to 2021 - Space.com

Space Innovations So Incredible, They Just Might Work – The Planetary Society

The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts program gathers its fellows each year to share what theyve learned about some of the most fascinating science and engineering imaginable. Mat Kaplan visits with Program Executive Jason Derleth and seven leaders of funded studies. Astronaut Mae Jemison also attended and returns to Planetary Radio. Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov passed away last week at 85. He is remembered and praised by space historian John Logsdon. All this, headlines from The Downlink, and Bruce Betts!

A classy NIAC pin, a Planetary Society KickAsteroid rubber asteroid, and a 200-point iTelescope.net astronomy account.

What was the first star system besides our own that was discovered to have eight planets?

The winner will be revealed next week.

The two missions that are still active on the surface of the Moon are Change 3 and 4.

NOTE: This automated transcript is currently being edited by a human. Check back soon for updates.

[00:00:00] Space Innovation so crazy they just might work this week on planetary radio.

Welcome. I'm at Kaplan of the planetary Society with more of the Human Adventure across our solar system and beyond. I exaggerated not all of the concepts studies and projects presented at this year's Nayak Symposium were on the bleeding edge, but there wasn't one of them that board this Gearhead will share a sampling in minutes and you'll hear a conversation with the leader of the NASA Innovative and advanced concepts program Jason derleth.

I'll also talk with Nayak keynoter astronaut engineer and MD Mae. Cosmonaut artist and World citizen Alexei leonov passed away last week space historian and policy expert John logsdon met him a couple of times and wrote about his front and center role in the Soviet space program. John will look [00:01:00] back with us right after a few headlines from around the solar system courtesy of the downlink.

October 11th brought only the second edition of this planetary science and exploration digest courtesy of my colleague planetary Society editorial director Jason Davis, here are three of Jason's capsule stories scientists have announced the discovery of 20 new moons around Saturn the wide ringed gas giant now officially has 82 surpassing Jupiter 79 to become the Solar System's current champion.

Okay, it's not a contest both are likely to have more and Jupiter probably has more in total. Want to help name Saturn's new Moon's there's a link what else in the downlink at planetary dot-org. In other Saturn news the Hubble Space Telescope has now been in space for an entire Saturn year ten thousand seven hundred sixty four Earth days as I record this or roughly [00:02:00] 30 Earth years, you can see how Hubble's view of Saturn has changed over that time in the planetary Society image Library.

NASA's latest efforts to save the heat flow experiment on the Insight Mission appear promising that self hammering mole was supposed to bury itself in the Martian soil to record changes in temperature, but it's still stuck near the surface Engineers are now using insights scoop to apply pressure on the mole while it digs.

The rest of the downlink is online at planetary dot-org in the blog where all the stories have links for further exploration. Thanks, Jason. John logsdon was at home in Washington DC when I caught him on the morning of October 15. John I wasn't a bit surprised to hear that you had run into Alexei Lan off a couple of times at least a couple of times I and I already knew because of course I've read so a lot of your writing that you have things to say about his significance in the [00:03:00] history of space exploration.

So I thank you for taking a couple of minutes to help us pay tribute to him this morning happy to do it. Was he among the greatest of the Great's was he up there with you know, Glenn and and Armstrong and and Gagarin. Oh, I think so. I mean, he was a world citizen. He was the first first person to do an Eva of course and nearly died in the.

Process trained to be the first Russian on the moon if the Soviet Union had ever gotten the chance to attempt a landing, but they couldn't get their big N1 rocket to work and then he was selected to command the apollo-soyuz and shaken steaks mission. And I think he was regarded by the space fires of the world is kind of one of the Granddaddy's of the space Community.

He was outgoing he was easy to get along with he liked everybody [00:04:00] almost everybody. And I think he was indeed one of the great. So how did you cross paths with him? Well one incidentally was through the planetary Society. It was a meeting at the US National Academy of Sciences sometime in the 80s.

Probably the tenth anniversary of us apollo-soyuz. I showed him the US intelligence satellite pictures of the N1 launch site. So that was that was interesting. I mean, I I never had an extended. Conversation with Lee and have unfortunately, but but and then I know in Moscow in 1987, I was part of a planetary Society group that went to the 30th anniversary of Sputnik and ran into him telling him that Buzz Aldrin was looking for him.

And he had the other way now there's an interesting Insight. I he's one of these [00:05:00] guys who apparently was changed by space travel. I mean he became an artist and I just read it is it not become an artist. He was an artist first. Oh, I didn't know that he went to art school before he went to flight school.

Wow. Okay. He brought his art to space. And did some very beautiful work and I just read in his updated Wikipedia biography about some of the things he said toward the end of his life about how he thought that we had missed an opportunity the United States and the Soviet Union to to collaborate to cooperate in space.

I think that's right. I mean again little-known factoid. The US and the Soviet Union had agreed after apollo-soyuz to work together with the shuttle rendezvousing with the Soviet space station and work together on planning a space station in the 80s and then [00:06:00] we didn't follow through on that agreement.

First of all because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and then. The early years of the Reagan Administration so there were missed opportunities along the way to do than what we ended up doing 20 30 years. Later. John I knew you'd be the right person to call thank you for this helping us Mark the passing of one of the greats in space exploration.

Yes, he will be missed John logsdon full disclosure a board member of a member of the board of directors of the planetary Society is also the founder. And ran the space policy Institute at George Washington University and the author of several books including John F Kennedy and the race to the moon.

The Nayak Symposium spread across three days early this month we met in Huntsville, Alabama not far from the Marshall space flight center Nayak began in [00:07:00] 1998 as the NASA Institute for advanced concepts. It went away for a few years and then returned as the NASA Innovative advanced concepts program.

Jason derleth is its program executive working out of the agency's space technology mission directorate in Washington. He joined me online a few days after the symposium. Jason thanks for joining me. And what a pleasure it was. Thank you for allowing me to be a fly on the wall at this Nayak Symposium at which we heard all of these fascinating and very exciting proposals.

Maybe some more likely to become reality than others, but. That's why you're out there doing this stuff. Right? Yes. It's wonderful that you were able to come. We really appreciated having you there. I think it adds a lot when we have folks who are generalists like yourself with a large amount of experience talking to people coming and you can ask.

Questions to the fellows and questions like that just make the the [00:08:00] studies stronger. We're really excited to have everybody there. Anyone who can come as welcome. Of course if that is pretty special as well that it is open to the public and you had some interesting members of the public there Frank Drake one of the inventors.

Talk about radically or entirely new Concepts one of the inventors of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. He wasn't a fellow he was just there to listen to your fellows make their presentations. And I know that he was very happy to be there. Yeah, Frank is a wonderful friend of the program.

He's been on our external counsel for a little while. But this was his last meeting with us so he may or may not come in the future. But if we have one nearby, I think he would just love to come he's always been able to provide helpful thoughts on astronomy and radio astronomy some Concepts in our program.

Give me give us please. The thumbnail description of of what Nayak is about and what NASA hopes to accomplish if that's not already obvious from what we've said so far [00:09:00] Nayak is. A technology development program that looks at new technologies that are 10 or more years out from final use some of these concepts are a little farther out than others, but it's amazing how excited and enthusiastic people are about their Concepts and about other people's Concepts as well.

So the basic gist of it is we provide a small amount of money in a small amount of time. Our Phase 1 studies are only a hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars over nine months to do a quick turn of the analysis crank to find out if a really interesting idea that someone's had is rooted in reality.

I mean, we try and weed out anything that's beyond the laws of physics before they ever get funding but the job of the phase one fellow we call all of our winners fellows not-p eyes is to show that not only is this idea. Within the realm of feasibility, but that it's a good idea to do. [00:10:00] And that's what they have nine months and $125,000 to to show NASA that this idea is so good that we ought to implement it.

The best ones go on to a phase 2 of study phase twos are two years long and 500 thousand dollars. And we have had some people show up to the midterm review of their faith to with multiple robots ready to go that in string. These people have often students working for them and sometimes volunteering their spare time just to work for NASA.

It's really exciting to some students to be able to do. So the products that come out of the phase 2 are usually really solid. Mission analysis with sometimes some bread board brass board or or prototype robots to show that what they are thinking about doing is feasible and a full technology implementation roadmap.

So what would need to happen before something could fly in space or [00:11:00] fly in the air if it's an aeronautics? Then you have this newest phase for very few proposals make it to this but your phase 3, which I guess we heard some of the first presentations about some of these projects this year. Yes.

That's correct our phase 3 we intend to fund one per year and it's for the concepts that after a phase 2 still have too much risk left in them for a traditional. Spaceflight engineering system to accept them as a new technology. So you can't imagine for instance a new Mission a mission manager choosing to do asteroid mining for instance at the moment that's going to take a little bit more work and a little bit more investment and the idea of the phase 3 is to go all the way to a.

Stage of development or development [00:12:00] stage in software where a future Mission could pick that up and start funding it after that and and one of the requirements for a phase three is to have a customer that's interested before we would consider funding it. How many people did we hear from and how many current fellows are.

Well, there's 12 phase ones from last year. We have six phase 2's and there were eight phase twos from the year before and two phase threes. You were telling me just before we started recording that you were going through some of the new proposals that that you've got there. You must get far more than you can possibly fund.

Yes, and we get a lot of fundable. Proposals as well, but Nayak is a little bit funny and NASA. It's not your average everyday NASA program in a lot of ways and one of those is that we take proposals from non traditional Aerospace folks and from in fact non [00:13:00] Aerospace folks. We have had quite literally garage inventors in Nyack.

One of them has an Optics bench in his. Detached garage up in New York state another one was a physical therapist that came up with a method of moving people in space to create artificial gravity that was in line. We've always heard about artificial Gravity by rotating your spacecraft and you put the astronauts on the inside surface and they rotate around and have artificial Gravity from that rotation.

This gentleman came up with a sled that could be slid back and forth with a Twist in the middle. And every person that I've ever shown this concept to says that is not going to work, but I want to see the results of the study because it really interesting and it turns out in fact that well it might could work.

I'm not sure that we would do it but it's actually a reasonable idea and it provides no [00:14:00] Coriolis effect on the body when you're doing the artificial gravity, it's quite interesting. Of course, you can find that study up on. On the website which will provide a link to as well because you can find out about all of these projects that that we're hearing about from Jason.

I'm also thinking of the ones that won't become reality. And there is still value in these isn't there if they explore something that no one has ever thought about before and discover doesn't look like this will work at least with our current understanding of the challenge. That's still valuable to know I fully agree.

In fact, I've often said that Nayak and other early stage technology development programs ought to be looking at our failures as successes because we're still adding. To human knowledge and making it publicly available. I can think of one in the new program that didn't work at least as currently envisioned.

The basic idea was to [00:15:00] have a spacecraft that was in very low earth orbit deep in the atmosphere or perhaps even a plane that caused a small explosion. Up in the upper atmosphere which would then push that upper atmosphere up into space for a short period of time where orbital debris would run into the atmosphere that was suddenly thicker and it would slow the debris down because the atmosphere was thicker than it what had been before and you might be able to do our but quite a bit of debris that way and after running the analysis unfortunately it showed that.

It really didn't slow things down very much. Unless you had a very large explosion and you'd have to do it multiple times. And so that very creative and intriguing idea didn't pan out but we only spent $100,000 to find out that that wouldn't work. That wasn't very much money in the NASA world. Of course, I think it was a good use of the taxpayer dollar since the research was able to [00:16:00] be put up online for anyone to see hey.

Don't go down this path right now because it's probably not going to work unless there's something substantially different than the future. What are some of your favorites or if you don't want to favor some of your children over others. So what are what are a couple more that you know demonstrate the diversity of projects that get funded.

Let me think carefully. We had a study from Ames Research Center that took a look at what would it take to take a human spacecraft and. Line the walls with bags bags of water at first as the astronauts drank the water and made waste the bags were designed to take the waste in and chemically treat that waste to purify it back into water the obvious benefit of this is that you're increasing your radiation shielding.

Well using these bags to purify [00:17:00] waste which will reduce the amount of water that you need to bring along with you. That was a fascinating study that that showed real benefits to doing so we had a study on what would it take to reach Alpha Centauri with a spacecraft for real you take a very small spacecraft perhaps even smaller than a phone no more than a chipset you put a.

Light sail around it something that could solar sail but then instead of using the solar photons you would shine lasers at it as brightly as you could maybe 50 very high power lasers. Well, the mathematic show that you can accelerate something from essentially zero velocity to approximately 2 tenths the speed of light in about 10 minutes at to tends to the speed of light.

You reach Alpha Centauri in only 20 years and it takes about five years to get the data back which [00:18:00] would be done through miniscule lasers pointing back at the Earth. But it turns out that the laser array that you used to push. The solar sail at the beginning can be used in coherent receive mode and might in fact be able to receive a direct laser signal from five light-years away.

The mathematics works out implementing that system will of course provide many challenges what you're describing there certainly sounds like it's the Breakthrough starshot project which we have talked about before on this show. If you watch the initial Breakthrough starshot video where Pete Worden got up and introduced the three luminaries that were on the stage Mark Zuckerberg and.

Stephen Hawking and Yuri Milner the Russian. Yes, millionaire who funded it Pete Worden about 35 minutes in mentions that this was an outgrowth from in fact the Nayak study that I just mentioned so breakthrough starshot was [00:19:00] was created because of a Nayak. Every one of the projects that I heard about is deserving of some conversation of sharing with our audience.

We won't be able to do all of them, but I said we will hear from some and we may hear from more over the coming weeks and months as I follow up with some others of your fellows. I'm going to bet that there are some people out there. Whether they are academics for people in a garage or people at a NASA Center or maybe with a big company who'd like to know, how do you get into this?

I mean, I already ran into one person from a University at the Starship Congress here in San Diego a few weeks ago who had never heard of Nayak and yet he is working on something that seemed like it was well within the kind of project that Nayak would consider. That's a great Point Nayak is a challenging program to get into because we are open to the public.

We receive between two and three hundred proposals every year and we're very aware [00:20:00] that we don't want to have people spending a lot of time proposing if they have only a. Five percent chance of winning and so what we do to make that a little bit better as we do a step proposal system where you provide us with a three-page white paper, and if you are in scope for our program and exciting enough, then we will invite you to provide us with an eight page proposal that will have a full peer review of expert panel review technical panel review.

We open that solicitation. Every year in August, but we're about to change the date to mesh a little bit better with the grand processing folks that work down at the NASA shared services Center. We're expecting the solicitation to come out in early June next year. But now what a lot of people don't know is that they can email us.

We have an email address that Matt can provide on the show page for any interested that [00:21:00] email address. You can send us a white paper to quickly review as long as we're not in an open competition. If we're in an open competition, we are not allowed to review somebody's white paper and give. Give them any feedback if we're not we are allowed to and so if you send an email to us with a three-page white paper, we can tell you.

Yeah, that's in scope or no. It's not in scope. It would be better. If you did the following thing the main thing that we find people doing when they proposed to Nayak as they don't understand what the c means and NASA Innovative advanced concepts because we're open to any and all technology areas.

We need a little bit of help from the proposers to tell us how good their concept is. Otherwise, we would be looking at let's just say a new material that could really revolutionize the way that we do space and we'd be comparing that to a. A new [00:22:00] architecture for just again, for example how you might get a large human-sized Lander down to the surface of Mars and we might be comparing that to a new space suit and we might be comparing that to a new instrument that could measure.

The quantities of dark matter in the universe. How do we do that? Well, we asked the proposers to put their new technologies into a mission context and we don't mean hey, this is something that's relatable to human spaceflight and so any future human space flight that's extended will use this technology know what we mean is you tell us a mission that you might do.

It doesn't have to be on NASA's books. Just a potential future mission. And then show what the impact of your technology is explain to us why your technology is better than sliced bread, right and on a good example of that might be the fusion propelled Pluto [00:23:00] Orbiter and Lander which we hold up quite frequently to talk about.

This Fusion is a very difficult concept and some people think that. We shouldn't be funding any Fusion at Nyack. The dollars are far too small to make any progress. Well, that might be true unless we're talking about a new method of fusion or a new way of doing it where $125,000 and nine months might actually show people.

Hey, this could be feasible sometime in the future. And that's what Stephanie Thomas did with this study of the Pluto Fusion Orbiter and Lander might be able to reach Pluto in five years orbit Pluto in five years and beam power to a Lander that could then be power rich and have more instruments on it.

That is a really exciting Mission analysis that can only be done. By her Fusion engine. Now the [00:24:00] reason why she chose Pluto is well by golly the farther you go with a Fusion engine the better it's going to look and we had just flown by Pluto and NASA had and so it was hot in the news and it was topical but it also really showed off the benefits of her technology and that's really the key if you can show us in a step a white paper that you have done a back of the envelope calculation.

And put that back of the envelope calculation into your proposal and show us that this is going to really make an impact. That's how you get into Nayak. It is a terrific opportunity and I won't be surprised if a few of our listeners out there many of them bleeding edge thinkers. If you don't hear from them at some point at least I would be wonderful.

I'd like to hear about that if anybody has those ideas Jason, I know it's a lot of work but. You seem to have an exciting job. Well, thank you. I work at NASA headquarters. And so a lot of it is paper [00:25:00] pushing, but I do get to interact with these really smart people that are doing really creative things all across all technology areas for space and that's just exciting everyday.

And it occurs to me not just the people who make the proposals but the people who help you evaluate them or are a pretty interesting group. Actually everybody who works in the program office at Nyack is a spectacular human being both professionally. And personally, I'm really fortunate to have these folks working with me.

Thanks Jason. I can't wait to see what the next batch of Nayak funded projects will put on the table for the rest of us to Marvel. I can't wait myself. It'll be a fun about eight months before we learn. Thanks. Jason dear life is the program executive. For Nayak the NASA Innovative advanced concepts program when we return we'll meet seven Nayak fellows including science fiction writer and physicist Geoffrey a Landis and we'll wrap up our Symposium coverage with the great Mae Jemison.

Bruce is [00:26:00] still ahead to this is planetary radio. Taking a minute to talk again about the Great Courses plus and about exoplanets. You know, how often we talk about exoplanets on this show. It's one of the courses not surprisingly offered by the Great Courses. Plus it's the search for exoplanets.

What astronomers know and it really could not be taught by anybody better Joshua win physicist at MIT. He's on the Kepler team and he is the Deputy science director for Tess the transiting exoplanet survey satellite another great course presented by great professor and they've got everything the human brain nuclear energy.

Greek mythology Stress Management playing guitar you name it all kinds of personal Improvement stuff that they've wrapped into their lineup as well. Now you can expand your mind by signing up for the Great Courses plus and right now listeners to plan a to a radio get this deal. An [00:27:00] entire month for free to start your free month sign up today using my special URL.

The great course is plus.com / planetary the Great Courses plus.com / planetary. I wish I could bring you conversations about all 28 of the presentations. I enjoyed at this year's Nyack Symposium. Here are short explorations of just seven. I think they represent a pretty good range of both topics and Nayak fellows.

By the way, what deal here are mostly excerpts from the live streaming videos? I hosted on behalf of Nayak during breaks in the Symposium action will start our warp speed tour with a concept that reminds me just a little bit of the Star Trek transporter good trekkies know that the transporter scans and breaks down matter sending Ross stuff and information from the Enterprise.

To the surface of a planet and a stream of both particles and energy [00:28:00] that beam somehow stays coherent. It doesn't spread out sound crazy. Well, it turns out that particles of matter and photons may actually be able to interact with each other to do exactly this. Not to send Captain Kirk to the rescue, but just possibly to someday drive a light sail across the solar system or to the Stars Chris limbach from Texas A&M University.

Two things come to mind which set your work apart a little bit. I think this is Nayak. So we've heard from a whole bunch of fellows who are out there at the bleeding edge pushing what we understand about what is possible with technology and science. But I don't think anybody has come as close to seeming like magic as yours, except of course that it's Nobel Prize in science backed science.

Yeah, I mean you think about the the optical trapping right? That was Nobel Prize was [00:29:00] awarded recently, but that technology was actually developed by, you know, Arthur ashkan at Bell Labs back in the 1980s. They started trapping particles using that type of force and you know, Optical guiding has been around, you know, people have known of that and mirages for a long time.

So, you know, that's one of the major things to me is that the the ingredients that go into this self-guiding and the beam are actually pretty well-known and I think that the thing that gets me excited is the novelty of combining that together and then using that for propulsion and you know, it's just really exciting to be part of the night program.

And the second thing that I think May set your work apart a little bit is that unlike so many of the other projects here very worthy projects that deserve more attention generally yours has gotten some popular media coverage and I can't for the life of me remember where but I know I'd read about it before coming here to to Nayak.

It does seem to be exciting the imaginations of a lot of. Yeah, I hope so. I mean, it's one of those things that you know, you see [00:30:00] some of these the concept that we propose and you know, I think I couldn't have come up with that just as a science fiction type of concept because it came about by trying to understand the physics of how do you build a beam which does not diffract in the vacuum of space.

Just let us to something which is just so unusual. But at the same time. You know, we understand I think now after the phase 1, you know, how it's actually going to be working and I'm just so excited to get in the lab. I'm experimentalists. Oh actually building some of these things in the lab and and testing out our theories of how this is working is really going to be so exciting in the next two years and your slides gave some examples of where you're headed with this experimental work proving out this technology, but certainly from the modeling that you've done and other efforts it looks pretty good.

Well, it does look good. And you know, we didn't always think it was going to all work out. So so the modeling it actually turned out to be I think a little bit better at least the preliminary modeling then I expect it because when we started out we weren't sure whether or not these forces The [00:31:00] Guiding and then the particle trapping.

Whether that needed to be a precise balance where you're kind of, you know, standing on the tip of a needle and and if that was the case, it would be easy for some kind of perturbation to cause that to Decay but what the modeling I think is shown at least preliminarily is that the guiding is more robust under the conditions we've modeled then than I had expected.

And so that was one of those areas where you're a little surprised at a good result doesn't always happen. No fact, it's more rare the other way. Yeah usually act on the way. Do you see this as something I'm certainly not a mature technology not yet. But you can see this is reaching those higher limits of TRL as we say Readiness level.

Do you see this? Maybe someday reaching the level where it could be pushing something across our little. Neighborhood of the Galaxy. Yeah, absolutely. And you know, it's not I think you're not going to go directly from where we are now to the [00:32:00] Proxima be Mission. You're going to start using it for travel around the solar system.

And so we have the tools now from The Phase 1 to scope out what the parameters would be. For example a 5-megawatt. Total power budget and what we can do with that and there's a lot of interesting things you can do even with a lower power something more achievable in the next 10 20 years. And so and so I think that there's there's a lot of opportunities but then again I see all of the challenges have you thought about other uses of this self-correcting Beam for things like communication across distances, that would have been unimaginable.

We thought about it a little bit. I think that one of the things I can say is that the propagation distance of the beam. I mentioned was only about half of an AAU because of the collisions with solar wind particles actually so that attenuates the particle beam and then you lose the self-guiding. So I think that you know, we can do Communications over that distance.

Of course, you need the power to actually. Fill the whole system and so I'm I'm not sure I agree that [00:33:00] there's a case there in terms of the seti implications after that half an AAU of propagation. Then you have a you know, 1 meter. Laser beam and that then diffracts out into space and so I'm not sure that gives you a tighter Beam at the next star system than anything else.

So, okay, so we're not ready to say hello to the centurions quite quite yet. We can send something there get back. We'll send them a gift. Yeah, right. Well FedEx speaking of light sales and we do Grover Schwarzenegger of the Rochester Institute of Technology. Welcome Grover. Thank you. Nice to be here.

You know, I'm with the planetary Society. So I'm a little partial to solar sails. I also bring you greetings from our chief scientist Bruce Betts. Thanks for that. And you attended our he attended a conference you did about meta materials for solar sails. That's right. We're trying to develop the next generation of solar cells based on metamaterials.

And so I had an incubator meeting in Washington DC and Bruce was one of our invited guests for that and he enjoyed it enormously [00:34:00] and we're going to meet a couple of your students but first. We won't fully review what you presented here. But you talked about making sales out of basically diffraction gratings.

Now what? So great about a diffraction grating compared to a nice shiny piece of mylar. Well diffraction gratings are have come a long ways the last decade or so because of metamaterials. There's new ways of engineering them make them highly efficient and functional you can basically design them to accomplish things that have not been imagined before because of material constraints.

So metal is a metal it reflects and that's about it. You can put coatings on it, but it can't achieve the functionality you can with. How does this compare to the great Japanese solar sail Icarus wasn't diffraction grating, but it had those LCD panels built into it. That's right. So it grows had an ingenious approach of having a electro-optic diffuser.

So rather than diffracting their light, they just scattered it all over the place that changed the amount of force [00:35:00] on that area of the cell ours will be I think more efficient and a little bit more functional. By their they follow similar approaches. They both involve Advanced metamaterial diffraction materials and advanced look a crystal material.

And you'd like to send maybe 12 of these circling the Sun but at high inclination so we could see as you demonstrated that the poles of the sun which we've had more difficult Imaging than we can say this now since last spring then a black hole. That's right. It amazes me that no one's ever had a good picture of the North or South Pole the sun before because it's so hard to get up there takes a lot of energy Rockets won't do it.

So we need to know what kind of propulsion and a solar sailing provides us that opportunity. Hide another constant theme from many of the fellows that we've been hearing from across these three days has been not just the technology accomplishments that they're making in the exciting Concepts, but how they have been using this research.

And spreading it out to young people like the [00:36:00] two who are standing here next to you. You want to introduce them. Now? This is Lucy Choo. She's from Taiwan. She's by PhD student. And this is Amber do Bill. She's undergraduate msbs student in chemical engineering at RIT. She's my mission specialist and I'm going to cross in front of you here and I'll start with you Amber.

How's it been to be involved as an undergraduate with a project like this? Honestly, I've been very lucky with the opportunities that I've been given and people like doctor SportsCenter come up with fantastic ideas. And I just want excited people who want to do the work and there's a lot of students and young people out there that are willing to do that.

I myself am one of them. So you're a little bit ahead of Amber here. But still I'm sure an exciting opportunity. It is our starting from you know, just investigating an Optics, but it's really cool opportunity that I'm involved in the Solar sails and then also like hearing all these Faith cool Symposium in these three days.

Best of luck to both of you particularly with this [00:37:00] great start in doing real space research. It must be rewarding to be able to offer these opportunities. And as that's what makes being a professor gratifying grading exams are proposals hard, but when you see these kids get excited and take jobs and the real world following their passions.

There's nothing like it in the world. Thank you Grover very much and look forward to license for lightsail to way to go. Fantastic. I'll pass that along to my colleagues who had a lot more to do with it. But thank you so much. I look forward to seeing that diffraction grating up their grazing the sun.

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Space Innovations So Incredible, They Just Might Work - The Planetary Society

Whats the source of the ice at the moons south pole? – EarthSky

Deep and shadowed Shackleton Crater, near the moons south pole, is one location where deposits of water ice have been found. This ice is of interest to scientists and potentially useful to future moon explorers. Image via NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Leonard Davids Inside Outer Space.

We tend to think of the moon as a dusty, bone-dry place, and for the most part, that is true. But the moon does have ice, in particular at the south pole, hidden in shadowed craters. Just how the ice got there has been a bit of a mystery, but now a new study suggests it may have various sources, both ancient and more recent.

The new peer-reviewed findings were published in Icarus on September 30, 2019.

This water ice has much value, both to scientists and future human explorers. According to Ariel Deutsch, lead author of the study and a graduate student at Brown University:

The ages of these deposits can potentially tell us something about the origin of the ice, which helps us understand the sources and distribution of water in the inner solar system. For exploration purposes, we need to understand the lateral and vertical distributions of these deposits to figure out how best to access them. These distributions evolve with time, so having an idea of the age is important.

EarthSky 2020 lunar calendars are available! They make great gifts. Order now. Going fast!

Map of known water ice deposits near the lunar south pole, from NASAs Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). Image via NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/AmericaSpace.

The findings suggest that not only is some of the ice much older than the rest, but that there are probably different sources, as well. Older ice could have come from water-bearing comets and asteroids or ancient volcanism. More recent ice deposits might be the result of pea-sized micrometeorites or implantation by solar wind.

So how did the researchers come to these conclusions?

Using data from NASAs Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), they looked at the ages of large craters near the moons south pole such as Shackleton Crater in which ice deposits have been found. The age of the craters can be estimated by counting the number of smaller craters inside the larger ones. Since scientists have a pretty good idea of the rate of impacts over time, they can estimate the ages of different kinds of terrain.

Indias Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft also found evidence for ice deposits on the moon back in 2009. Image via Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)/Discover.

Most of the ice is found in very old craters, formed about 3.1 billion years ago or more. The ice cant be any older than the craters themselves, or it would have been vaporized during the impacts. This doesnt mean the ice must be as old as the craters, either, but it must be old since the distribution of the ice deposits on the crater floors is patchy, suggesting that it has been subjected to impacts by micrometeorites over a long period of time.

Deutsch added:

There have been models of bombardment through time showing that ice starts to concentrate with depth. So if you have a surface layer thats old, youd expect more underneath.

What was most surprising was ice in smaller, younger craters. This would imply that those ice deposits are also younger, and were created by a different process than the ice in the older, larger craters. As Deutsch noted:

That was a surprise. There hadnt really been any observations of ice in younger cold traps before.

While spacecraft like LRO have confirmed the ice deposits and others, like Indias Chandrayaan-1 mission as well figuring out how different deposits actually formed will probably require return missions. Additional robotic missions will come first, followed, hopefully, by new crewed missions such as NASAs planned Artemis mission. Knowing exactly where the ice deposits are located, and how much ice there is, will be important for planning future human missions back to the moon.

Future human missions to the moon, like NASAs planned Artemis mission, will need resources such as the water ice deposits to help sustain a long-term presence. Image via NASA.

Jim Head, a professor at Brown University, explained:

When we think about sending humans back to the moon for long-term exploration, we need to know what resources are there that we can count on, and we currently dont know. Studies like this one help us make predictions about where we need to go to answer those questions.

Ice on the moon may seem surprising, but it shouldnt be; Mars has lots of ice, comets and some asteroids have abundant ice, there are many moons in the outer solar system completely covered in an ice crust with oceans below! and even Mercury has ice deposits near its north pole, in regions with permanent shadow (since there is no atmosphere to distribute heat from the sunlit areas). Scientists will now be able to compare the origins of the moons ice with that of other bodies in the solar system, and for future explorers, it will be a much-needed resource.

Bottom line: Water ice deposits near the moons south pole appear to be of different ages and have different sources, according to a new study from Brown University.

Source: Analyzing the ages of south polar craters on the Moon: Implications for the sources and evolution of surface water ice

Via Brown University

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Whats the source of the ice at the moons south pole? - EarthSky

Tiny walking rover bound for the moon – Reuters

A new lunar rover which will explore the moon in 2021, is seen unveiled in London, Britain October 10, 2019. REUTERS/Stuart McDill

LONDON (Reuters) - A lunar rover which will explore the moon on foot in 2021 was unveiled in London on Thursday.

The new concept, with four legs rather than wheels, will send data back to a larger mothership, which will transmit it back to Earth.

UK startup Spacebit signed a contract with U.S. space robotics company Astrobotic to get the rover on board their Peregrine lander, which will carry 14 NASA instruments to the moon.

Once the lander reaches the moons surface, the rover will drop from beneath it to the surface and attempt to explore a lava tube. Its very important to explore the lunar tubes to know the environment that we have there so potentially humans can live in those lunar tubes when they go back to the moon, SpaceBit founder and CEO Pavlo Tanasyuk told Reuters.

The rover is the smallest lunar rover ever and incorporates some off-the-shelf parts which drastically reduces the cost, according to SpaceBit. We believe that in space exploration what is important is to have low-cost missions and this rover provides potential for very low-cost missions. Its many, many times cheaper than any competition on the market, Tanasyuk said.

The first mission will see just one rover explore the surface for only one day, until the solar night falls and it ceases to operate. Spacebit says the plan is for subsequent missions to deploy swarms of rovers connected to motherships which protect them at night and relay the data back to Earth. In the future were going to commercialize this robot by selling the data we get from the moons surface... very valuable data for the future human missions on the moon. And also we are planning to potentially go into mass production of this rover so we can explore our solar system and run low-cost missions to the moon and beyond, Tanasyuk said.

British astronaut Tim Peake welcomed the Spacebit project and also said the UKs plans to develop its space industry would not be affected by Brexit. The European Space Agency is not part of the EU so Britains membership of ESA post-Brexit will still be confirmed, Peake said.

Spacebit plans to run a competition to allow the public to choose the name for the new rover - despite a recent poll to name a new British research ship being won by Boaty McBoatface.

Reporting by Stuart McDill; Editing by Susan Fenton

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Tiny walking rover bound for the moon - Reuters